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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

How to make bloggers hate you by just hitting send.

Below please find the full text of a solicitation email sent by the JTA today. I’d like to point out that the emphasis is not mine, the emphasis is Elisa’s.

Storytelling is fundamental to the Jewish experience. It is how we hand down our culture to the generations. Next week we will gather with family and friends to tell the seminal story of Jewish existence-the powerful exodus of our people. And, storytelling is what JTA does every day. Mumbai … Gaza…Durban. Obama …Madoff … Netanyahu. Whoever it is, wherever it is – JTA tells the story, so that our community stays informed. At this moment, JTA’s ability to tell these stories is threatened by the realities of the economic downturn. And, in the chaos of the information age in which we live, it is even harder to find the trusted voices on which we rely for independence and accuracy. Without a strong JTA, the storytelling will be left to bloggers, twitterers, and non-professionals. Is this the best way for our future Jewish stories to be told and recorded? I am asking you to join JTA by becoming a member of our online community. For just $50 a year-less than $1 a day-you will signal that you value the service we are providing and take responsibility for supporting it. During the seder, one of the four children asks, “What does this service mean to you?” I am asking you to ponder that same question and join us by becoming a member. This year IS different from all other years. Please come forward today. Allow us to know by Seder Night that with your help, our story will continue to be told. Thanks and Happy Pesach! Elisa Spungen Bildner President P.S. The Internet may be free, but news has a real cost. Practically every day there is word of another beloved media outlet shrinking or shutting down. Please become a JTA member today and help keep the international Jewish stories coming.

I have no relationship with the JTA and unless a retraction is posted quickly, this email guarantees that I will never have one. The JTA is one of the news services for the Jewish community and they have put a stake in the ground that a blogger has no right to tell the Jewish story.

I do not believe we live a world of journalism OR bloggers. I believe we need journalism. We need professional writers and reporters. Working at Edelman and having close friends in the newspaper business has taught me a lot. The business of media has changed. Media outlets that raise money by inciting fear of bloggers… these are not the outlets that are going to survive.

We also need story-tellers, which is what I am, to build our Jewish community. I have said time and time again, without my blog I would have a very small Jewish community. I would hang out only with other reform Jews on the northside of Chicago and Jews involved in JUF. Because I blog and twitter, I am friends with Jews around the world of all streams. I have shared the story of my conversion with others seeking to join the Jewish people. I have built relationships with other writers and story-tellers.

What is beautiful about blogging is that is has democratized publishing. Good writing aside, we are each armed with the tools to tell our stories and the stories of others. More is written and shared, more relationships are built and the Jewish people are stronger because of blogs. The JTA does not sustain my immediate community, blogs and twitter help sustain my community.

While fear is an excellent fundraising tactic and one that every Jewish organization seems to use, it won’t work this time. Blogs are not destroying the Jewish people, it is a tool that gives voice to the Jewish people and is building relationships. Relationships that will sustain us into the future.

UPDATE: Here’s a link to Esther K’s post. She’s a bit more of an insider on this story with a long-standing relationship with the JTA.

UPDATE 2: Here is the official response from the JTA from Dan Sieradaski.

UPDATE 3: Here is the even more official response from Elisa Spungen Bildner.

I know how hard it can be to get an official response through red-tape of approval on a weekend, especially if those writing and approving may also be shomer shabbas. To that end, I appreciate the speed of Saturday night and Sunday afternoon responses

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